The Internal Revenue Service seems to be making progress on the glitch that's bedeviled its online tax refund tracking system this filing season.
Some folks who've been trying to find the status of their tax refunds via the IRS' Where's My Refund tracking tool have been majorly frustrated. In some cases the expected refund dates were much longer than expected. In others, the program said it couldn't find people's 2011 filing information.
Taxpayers were getting so angry that the IRS had to admit that the search tool wasn't working and pleaded for patience while the agency's tech people tried to sort things out.
Judging from the disclaimer changes that went up this week at the Where's My Refund website, the tool apparently is working much better.
Sorry, but I can't provide you with a firsthand report as (a) I haven't filed yet and (b) when I do file, I don't expect the paperwork to produce a refund. So I'm taking the IRS' word that things are better.
But the agency's request that taxpayers don't bug the IRS reps who answer the tax hotline also indicates that better doesn't mean totally fixed.
Here's the latest online word from the IRS:
If you e-file, you can generally expect your refund within 10 - 21 days. The projected refund date "Where's My Refund?" provides may change as your tax return moves through processing. Keep in mind that IRS telephone assistors will not be able to provide additional information.
Please DO NOT CALL our toll-free number unless "Where's My Refund?" specifically indicates that you should.
To take the heat off the phone answerers, the IRS has add a new 2012 Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions page that it hopes will deal with most queries.
The IRS also issued an email updating its efforts to fix the slow refund processing, primarily caused by new anti-fraud measures implemented this filing season:
"Earlier issues in January and February with IRS systems and the 'Where's My Refund' tool have been resolved. In the first few weeks of the filing season, there were two different issues that came up that resulted in longer refund cycles than taxpayers may have expected. Those issues only affected a subset of taxpayers filing returns. Both issues are resolved. Taxpayers who filed after February 13 have not experienced delays."
The IRS says that overall, tax refunds are running ahead of last year. Through late February, more than 45.2 million refunds have been issued, compared to 45.1 million for the comparable period last year.
And the IRS again stressed that refund receipt time frames are merely projections, not promises, and are subject to revision.
You also might find these items of interest:
- IRS has $1 billion in unclaimed tax year 2008 refunds
- $153 million in tax refunds returned as undeliverable
- Tax refunds as forced savings accounts